Monday, July 13, 2009


DON'T TEMPT ME by Loretta Chase (Published by Avon Books, June 30, 2009)
Lucien de Grey, Duke of Marchmont, cared about very little in his world. A man much admired in the ton, he harbors no deep thoughts or allows no emotion to play a part in his life. Nothing phases him, nothing disconcerts him and he takes nothing seriously. Nothing, that is, with the exception of his former guardian Lord Lexham. For Marchmont owed a debt to Lord Lexham that could never be repaid. At the age of ten, Lucien had lost his parents to a fever. He and his older brother, Gerard, unable to express their grief, angry and brooding, had been taken in hand and gently guided by Lord Lexham. It was while spending his summers with his guardian that Lucien, the future Duke of Marchmont, met the irrepressible hoyden, Zoe Octavia Lexham, Lord Lexham's youngest daughter. When tragedy strikes again in the loss of his beloved older brother Gerard, Lord Lexham once again steps in and helps the young man grieve and heal. It was when Lucien loses Zoe, however, that he closes the door on his emotions and on his heart finally and irrevocably. Losing the last person in a long line of people who were important to Lucien is too much for his young heart to bear. For it was from that point forward that the Duke of Marchmont becomes a man oblivious to any type of emotion or care or worry.

Known at a "bolter," Zoe Octavia Lexham is a free spirit who despises being confined. She begins, at the age of four, running away at every opporutnity. Growing up the youngest girl in a brood of eight, Zoe delights in breaking rules and doing the unconventional. Whether it is learning Latin and Greek, typically a boy's doman, associating with children she shouldn't or riding horses she is not allowed to ride, Zoe seems to enjoy doing just the opposite of what she is supposed to be doing. Zoe was what the family considered "the problem child." But, it is Zoe who enchants the young Lucien. Only Lucien can find her when she runs away. And, Zoe is the only one who can make him laugh. Zoe becomes the only bright spot in the young Lucien's sad life. At the age of twelve, Zoe accompanies her parents on a tour of Greece, Egypt and the Holy Land. It was during this tour, that Zoe disappears. Frantic, her parents institute a search, to no avail. Lord Lexham and his wife never stop searching and keep hope alive in their hearts. It is twelve years later when Zoe appears on her parents' doorstep in London that the story begins.

When I first began this book and discovered that Zoe had been held in a harem, I was worried where this might lead. However, as the book progressed and the storyline and characters developed, I was very pleasantly surprised. I'm never surprised at the caliber of writing and/or character development of Ms. Chase. She is one of my favorite authors and has proven, time and again, to be an exceptional storyteller. I was suprised at how she deftly wove Zoe's experiences, knowledge and wisdom gained (yes, she learned a lot in that harem, more than you would surmise), into the story and how well it worked. Zoe's strength of character, intelligence and her convictions have a tremendous impact on Lucien's seemingly shallow, rakish character. Zoe's observations of the ton are hysterical. Watching her slowly chip away at Lucien's defenses and his closely guarded heart, combined with a sizzling attraction between the two is a treat to observe. Lucien is a charming hero whose world and belief system are shaken and re-evaluated by Zoe's reappearance into his life.

As in all of Ms. Chase's books, the dialogue is snappy, clever and witty and the characters are passionate and endearing. I have a short list of authors whose work I buy without question each and every time they publish a book. Loretta Chase is an author on that list. Her work never fails to enchant me and, more often than not, she makes me laugh with her clever dialogue and/or the situations she places her characters in. Ms. Chase's "Carsington Brother" series is a classic and not to be missed. DON'T TEMPT ME appears to be the beginning of another wonderful, engaging series. This book is a keeper and I highly recommend it. ;)